Dr Nahla Alhafez

Phone: +44 (0)1782 733691
Location: Huxley Building : 024
Role: Demonstrator
alhafez nahla

I graduated with a BSc (Hons) from the Department of Biology, Faculty of life Science, Aleppo University in 2005 and specialised in Microbiology. After that I studied one year in a higher education diploma course, in which my main focus was on Anthrax. I obtained the degree in 2006. Then I was appointed as a lecturer at Damascus University. During 2008 to 2011, I taught undergraduate students in modules such as Genetics, Ecology and Entomology. In 2011, I got a scholarship from the Syrian High education Ministry to study a PhD at Keele university under the supervision of Prof. Frederic Tripet investigating the Malaria mosquitoe An. gambiae through studying the speciation process between recently diverged species and the potential genetic and behavioral differences between them.
I successfully finished my PhD in April 2016. 
During my PhD I worked as a demonstrator in the School of Life Sciences within the year 1 and 2  undergraduate and MSc level in cellular and mulecular Biology, Geneticts and neuroscience which continues today. Currently I have been appointed as a teaching fellow in Microbiology at Keele university in the Science Learning Centre.

My main PhD research interests were in controlling Malaria disease through biological control of the vector, in the first step focused on understanding the genetics and their reflection on the traits that cause speciation in Anopheles  gambiae  s.l.  species. These species are reported as the most important vectors due to their ability  to  spread and  exploit  both  temporary  and  man-made  breeding  sites.  These  factors combined  with  their  capacity  to  transmit  malaria,  make  them wide-open  subject  for researchers  to  find  alternative  different  methods  to  control  malaria  disease.  Historically, there  were   many  attempts  to  limit  or  eradicate  malaria  disease   by  controlling  the mosquitoes. two distinct sibling species Anopheles coluzzii and Anopheles gambiae s.s. were  defined  in An.  gambiae complex  based  on  single nucleotide  polymorphisms intergenic  spacer  (IGS)  near  the  centromere  of  the  X  chromosome. Therefore, two objectives were taken into consideration in this research. The first was genetic objective  that  aims to  identify  the  islands  of  speciation  that  more  likely  responsible  for assortative  mating and the second  one was  investigating the behavioural  objective that  aims  to  identify  the mechanisms  of  assortative  mating using  recombinant  and  parental  strains.  The outcome and findings were important steps to explain the speciation process within An.  gambiae s.l. species that in turn important for malaria control strategies.

Journal Articles
Aboagye-Antwi F, Alhafez N,et al. 2015. Experimental Swap of Anopheles gambiae's Assortative Mating Preferences Demonstrates Key Role of X-Chromosome Divergence Island in Incipient Sympatric Speciation. Plos genetics, vol. 11(4), Article ARTN e1005141.

Alhafez N. April 2013: Genetic and behavioural mechanisms of speciation in the Anopheles gambiae complex. Conference: British Society for Parasitology.